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Union, Castlewood boys look for podium finishes at state XC

Tanner Cook • Nov 7, 2018 at 9:11 PM

The VHSL state cross country championships this weekend at Great Meadow in The Plains will quite possibly be a mudslide, according to the impending weather that is sweeping across the Southeast.

This could make the challenging rolling hills of the old steeplechase course a little bit tougher.

The Class 1 and Class 2 boys and girls races are set to take place on Friday.

CLASS 2 BOYS

The unbeaten Union Bears go into the meet looking good for a podium spot after posting solid results at the Mountain 7 District meet and at the Region 2D championships.

The Bears barely nipped a tough Grayson County team by two points, and it will be a close one for second place in the final race of the day on Friday afternoon.

Maggie Walker is a heavy favorite to win the title again this year as the Green Dragons bolster a scorching 16:38 average for 5K, which ranks them within the top 10 in the entire state across all divisions. The projections based on season-best times say that Maggie Walker has the possibility of 22 points at the state meet.

Union will be in a tough battle with Wilson Memorial, Radford and Grayson County for second, but the pack running of the Bears could be the entire key to getting on the podium.

On the individual side, Union’s Nathaniel Hersel is the highest projected individual at fifth, while Jacob Mullins is at 10th. Andrew Deel of Wise Central is also in the top 10 as an individual, coming in projected at seventh.

The back scorers for the Bears will determine where they end up in the standings, and they will all have to have good days to get on the podium.

CLASS 1 BOYS

The Castlewood boys will look to continue a dream season at Great Meadow as they come in currently projected at fifth. The Blue Devils will have to have stellar days to make the podium.

Currently, Auburn is the top team coming in, followed by George Wythe and then Mathews in third. Parry McCluer is fourth and is projected 78 points ahead of the Blue Devils.

Much like Union, the tight pack running Castlewood had at the Cumberland championships and then again at Region 1D at Sugar Hollow will be key to placing high.

On the individual side, Hunter Hicks is projected at 11th followed by J.I. Burton’s Owen Lindsey currently on the outside looking in at All-State in 16th.

It will be a tough mountain for Castlewood to climb to get into the top three, but on the right day and with a large field, the back-end points for other teams could add up over the long haul.

CLASS 1 GIRLS

Rye Cove goes up to Great Meadow running the first race of the day, and the Lady Eagles go in projected ninth but are within striking distance of the top seven.

Being better than ninth would be the best finish for the Lady Eagles in school history, but Riverheads and Stonewall Jackson (Quicksburg) are a good ways off in the standings.

Eastside comes in at 10th, projected 11 points behind their Cumberland District rival.

On the individual side, Rye Cove’s Katy Roller comes in with the best chances to make the top 15 at 24th, and Eastside freshman Gracie Cress is right on her heels in 25th.

The hills of Great Meadow will not be nearly as tough for the runners as Sugar Hollow at the region meet. At Sugar Hollow, there was an uphill to follow every downhill. At Great Meadow, it will be much of the opposite.

CLASS 2 GIRLS

The Class 2 field for the girls race on Friday will be one of the most loaded in the entire state with Maggie Walker coming in as a slight favorite over Clarke County and an average of 19:57.

Ridgeview is the highest projected area team at 10th followed by Union in 12th.

The individuals will be interesting as Carlee Salyers of Wise Central and Haley Sykes of Ridgeview are projected near the final two spots for All-State.

Region 2D champion Jessey Ball is also in the top 10 as the 2016 state champion will look to add to her trophy case.

The first race of the day on Friday will be the Class 1 girls at 10:30 a.m. and there will be 45 minute intervals between races. The last race is the Class 2 boys at 1:45 p.m.

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